By Marty Gordon
Hokie football fans were given a glimpse of the new “Brent Pry era” squad Saturday as an open practice was held in Lane Stadium. The team held one-on-one drills and progressed through seven periods of action.
Fans were excited to be back without the COVID masks and with a new chapter in front of them. “It was great,” said Vernon Harris from Roanoke. “It was the first time I can remember there being an open practice to the entire public. I think the whole fanbase is enthused with Coach Pry and how he’s been involved and is keeping the fans involved because I know I am.”
Vernon has been coming to Tech football games for nearly 40 years, and he wasn’t the only fan happy to be there Saturday with access to watch the team compete on a non-gameday.
“It’s been awesome,” said Ben Vogt, who is a senior at Tech from Front Royal, Va. “I love that
he’s starting to bring this to the fan, because everyone wants to see a practice. The spring game is
awesome, but I don’t think it’s enough for the fans because we always want more.”
Tech returns 18 lettermen on offense and 23 on defense along with one specialist, but it could be some of the new faces on the field this past weekend who could be the deciding factor. In addition, the team is joined by several walk-ons including former Christiansburg High’s Matson
Stanley who is working with the defensive unit.
The biggest outtake from Saturday was the remark by Coach Pry when he said there are no starters, and “first-team” and “second-team” is not something that can be used in the conversation right now. Every position, he said, is up for grabs.
The “clean slate” approach might light a fire under last year’s starters who are going to be pushed by lots of newcomers.
A prime example of this is at the most important position on offense: quarterback.
Saturday, six quarterbacks took their turn at connecting on what should be easy routes and passes during a practice session. Instead, there were plenty of misfires.
Pry did not like all the misfires but admitted there is much more to work on. Transfers Grant Wells and Jason Farrell joined returners Connor Blumrick and Tahj Bullock along with newcomers Ben Locklear and Devin Farrell in making it a very crowded quarterback room.
All of them struggled at times.
Of course, the defensive back-wide receiver one-on-one drills did not show fans much either. This new coaching staff has lots to work through in this infancy stage.
Pry met the media after practice and was pleased with the effort from his group.
“We were much better than yesterday,” Pry said. “We want to challenge our guys in every area that we can. We want to contest every catch, fight for every extra yard. Right now, that’s all we are talking about. But it’s important to have fun. That’s why these guys play this game and they’re excited to be out here.
Virginia Tech’s spring game will be held Saturday, April 16.